SOC 101: Fan Studies (You Can Help!)

I have taken little jabs at supporters’ groups from time to time, but I want to clarify this a little. It’s not the groups that irk me, but a familiar mind-set that permeates them: the super-fan, the “true supporter” mentality, the celebration and even promotion of obsessing over the club’s fate as a badge of pride. And, to be clear, I don’t take issue with the super-fan as a person – until, that is, they call out other people for being outside the church. So, irks seems the wrong word. I think I’m just puzzled by the hyper-devoted (while being simultaneously fascinated by the way in which being inside the group intensifies the connection between fan and team; another post, another day).

The reason I’m puzzled bears noting: what we are all engaged in, after all, is watching other people do something, as opposed to participating directly. Invested as I get in that, and as much as I feel like the game consumes my life to what I’d dub an unbalanced extent, I see and read things everyday that tell me I’m half-assing it. And that’s just odd. True, I the losses hurt me less, the wins don’t make my week, and I’d rather just watch the game and yell what comes to me, as opposed to joining with others to create atmosphere and 12th-man hostility: maybe that’s enough for “half-assed” to stick.

That, however, is just the frame for the question, and this goes to anyone who counts themselves a super-fan, true supporter, what have you: what is your passion? That’s not some Oprah-esque question about what do you love in life, but, literally, what is that passion? What creates and drives your behavior as a fan of the game and what role, and to what extent, does the community aspect of supporters group fuel it? How do you explain your fandom, from its intensity to the yen for a stadium full of people chanting the same song? Why do you value the traditional chanting and bouncing to the extent that you’re aggravated at people who sit on their hands? Why is building atmosphere nearly as important to you as the game itself, if not more important?

As noted in a separate post, I’ll be gone for a couple days, but would love to see a shitload of answers filling the comments field when I get back. Consider this an open invitation to tell the story of your fandom, specifically, what turns your crank and how it…well, gets you off.  Juice it up with anecdotes about divorces, break-ups, lost jobs, and horrible hygiene, so much the better – and, all right, meeting your future wife on a road trip counts as well. Only one answer is out of bounds: “If you don’t understand, I can’t explain it to you.” That’s a cop-out, not an answer.

By all means, float this on other sites; the more the merrier. I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious. I’m really puzzled by not only how I attach to the game, but by the way others do so more passionately. You’ve heard my bit and won’t hear any more; it’s your turn now.

EPL Daily 2.29: The oft-forgotten impact of McBride

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The UK’s Daily Mail actually put out something today not rooted in rumor. A tribute – if you can call it that – to Brian McBride. As Fulham continues to slide, many wonder if it would have been any different had McBride been there the whole time. He’s always been their guy to right the ship and with tomorrow’s fixture vs. Manchester United looming, there’s really only one guy the Fulham faithful can look to for any sense of survival. It’s been that way for a while now and he’s put in a lot of work to become that go-to guy at the club level – for Everton, Preston North End, Columbus, Milwaukee Rampage of the old USISL, VfL Wolfsburg.

McBride has scored twice in the past 3 games against United, but Fulham has only produced 2 goals in the last 5 league games. The truth is, NO ONE on the team has the same dedication, bravery, and aggression that McBride exhibits. This is a guy who holds an impressive resume of injuries – shattered cheekbones, broken eye socket, metal plates, blood clots, and most recently the dislocated kneecap that put him out for a solid 6 months. These aren’t injuries sustained due to lack of fitness, etc. – they’re what Ray Hudson would call ‘gladiator’ injuries. We all remember the Daniele De Rossi challenge in the 2006 World Cup…McBride had this to say after that,

I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a lot of feeling in my face. My nerves are all dead from the surgery. You get hit and you get back up.

Without him, Fulham’s two other proclaimed target men have done nothing for the team – Diomansy Kamara and Shefki Kuqi – while the guy meant to finish all of the challenges that these target men win, has hit for nothing [David Healy]. Now with Dempsey, Johnson, and McBride all healthy and getting consistent playing time – it’s up to the American trio to pull a Wigan and find their way out of the depths.

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I’ll keep this from breaching man-crush territory and let you decide…

What was Brian McBride’s career moment?  I’d say this could be up there…

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One-Liner guide to La Liga- Jornada 26

Welcome back to this week’s One-Liner guide to La Liga–Jornada 26.  Unfortunately, that’s going to be it for the guide this week since I currently have the plague thanks to my YMCA kids and ‘swimmers ear’ (God I feel like such a kid saying that).

I’ll be back soon, until then, hop on over to Tim Stannard’s preview at La Liga Loca.

MLS Philly: The Press Conference! Sons of Ben Video!

A good 1-2k showed up for the festivities at Turbine Hall, the whole investors’ group was readily accessible, and a couple things were said that wasn’t covered fully in the MLS Press Release.

Continue below – first though, here is the video of Nick Sackiewicz addressing Sons of Ben at Dark Horse Tavern on Tuesday night. Yours truly sits right at 0:38 with the glasses and striped blue shirt [without the scarf]. Handsome devil I am. Enjoy. Particularly the moment where Sons of Ben gives Sackiewicz his first round of Philadelphia boos.



Read on below for press conference tidbits:

– The head of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association will head up the Youth Development program for MLS Philly.

– There are thoughts, post 2010, to bring a women’s team to the area.

– Sons of Ben president Bryan James was interviewed, called up on stage, and asked to speak. Each speaker mentioned the Sons of Ben, a true testament to all that they’ve done.

– Seattle has sold over 12,000 season tickets now. That’s ridiculous.

– Nick Sakiewicz has called this the “fan’s team”, which leads me to believe that the colors will remain light blue and yellow (a la Philadelphia flag) with probably black or white foundations.

– The fan’s will vote for the MLS Philadelphia name.

– US Soccer legend Walter Bahr was on hand and received a couple shoutouts.

– For those that haven’t been to the site, it will be gorgeous once everything is up and running. Once I figure out how to extract photos from my stupid cell phone, I’ll get them up on the site.

– CEO Jay Sugarman looks like a cross between Jim Carrey, and someone else, anyone know who that other person is? Both Mayor Nutter and Governor Rendell were on hand.

The archived video of the press conference should be up very shortly on MLSNet.

MLS Is “Abroad” – Marinate on that for a minute

With a hearty hat-tip to du Nord, I read a bit about Indra Sahdan’s trial with Real Salt Lake.  A hint of the exotic draws me to the player – though, of course, I hope he’s still good – but the last line in the latest write-up really caught my eye:

“Finally, Indra reversed his earlier decision to leave.”

“He said: ‘At 28, this is my last chance of realising a dream to play abroad.'”

I never thought of Major League Soccer (MLS) as a destination for players.  But I suppose that depends on where you start.

And I give a mental high-five to anyone who can guess where I lifted the line “marinate on that for a minute.”  I’m thinking one source, one song to be precise.  And the context is totally different…

R O’B to SJ + If I Were Kelly Gray….

A big ol’ Slap o’ Life is coming down the pike and that will keep me away from the site from the end of the day Friday until….well, let’s just say it depends on how many swings Life takes until it thinks I’ve had enough. The upshot of that isn’t major – god knows outlets for snark, soccer, or both aren’t in short supply on the Web – but this does mean I won’t get to my final Off-Season Progress Report until sometime next week. And that’s just as well, in some ways, because all the players, furniture, etc. get nailed down by next Monday (for the most part), which will give us something concrete to talk about.

In the meantime, however, any player movements that make their way over the transom will get due coverage – provided, at least, I know anything about the players involved. Put another way, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the meaning of Franco Carracio’s arrival in Houston or Kenny Deuchar’s house-call (oh, the doctor puns!) to Real Salt Lake.

What I can kick around is the apparent trade that sent Ronnie O’Brien from Toronto FC to the San Jose Earthquakes. Or, as I like to think of it, wow, Toronto just traded away their offense. An exaggeration perhaps? Mm…maybe. Or, as the Toronto Star’s write-up suggests, maybe not: Continue reading

Crew TSII: Crew Coming Into Focus; Nifty Friendly (that sounds less nifty when you think about it)

(Just a quick FYI: I think I’ve got a good set-up in mind for the Rapids/Crew updates. Those will come early in the morning, the rest will follow. At least that’s the plan today. And, oh yes, I will miss breaking stories…that is all.)

It takes covering the Colorado Rapids to truly appreciate the true meaning of crap coverage. The comparative radio silence of Rapids-Land gives the several reports and updates from outlets official and private on the Columbus Crew a sense of things afoot. Good lord, it might even be a buzz.

Tucked in the middle of a weekly update focused on Eddie Gaven’s and Robbie Rogers’ call-up(s) to the U-23s, you’ll find the first and second half line-ups for the Crew’s embarra…I mean, loss to the Ventura County Fusion. You’ll see some familiar names from this pre-season in there – Emanuel Ekpo, Guilherme So, Sandro Jose, even Mamadu Bah – but it takes Covering the Crew’s latest post to get a bead on where these guys stand. To sum up – for those not interested in the expanded version: So and Ekpo look like they’ll sign – the latter, it seems, has really impressed; the team wants more time to evaluate Bah and talks with Sandro Jose remain stuck. It’s also worth pointing out that there’s talk of an imminent waiver in there as well: so long, Ricardo Virtuoso(?). Continue reading